Here’s our wrap up for the week.
Eastern Line shutdown
Following on from the news last week that Kiwirail would be slowing down the rail network to a maximum of 40km/h for six months while they replace worn rail. Yesterday they announced another step and that they would be shutting down the Eastern Line for two weeks from Monday.
“We are accelerating our work programme to repair and replace the 100 kilometres of rail across the wider network.
“Closing the track for an extended period like this minimises overall disruption to commuters and corridor neighbours, as it allows far greater productivity for our teams.
“Work done across a 14-day closure would take more than 100 days if done only piecemeal at night and over weekends, as we are doing currently. While this stoppage will enable us to make significant progress, there will be further work required before we can return this section to full line speed.
“We are currently working with AT to develop the programme, both for completing the necessary work on the Eastern Line and carrying out the work across the rest of the network. That is likely to involve further stoppages similar to this one.
“The right access to the track will allow us to substantially complete the work in about six months, and in a way that enables a progressive return to normal line speeds.
Shutting down the line is a major step and will have a big impact on users – assuming we come out of level 3 next week. I said earlier this week I would be supportive of a shutdown like this if it meant we could get back to normal sooner but it seems this is needed just for Kiwirail to achieve the 6-month timeframe they revealed last week. Presumably this also means they knew last week that this level of intervention would be required and therefore it was clearly disingenuous of them not to have said this would be needed too.
Of course as they also mention, we can likely expect similar shutdowns on the other lines too. I think the public deserve to know just how much work is really required and also what measures are being put in place to prevent a repeat of this in just a few years time.
City Rail Link TBM on the way
The Tunnel Boring Machine that will dig the tunnels for the City Rail Link has been completed and is on the way.
New Zealand’s largest transport infrastructure project is celebrating a significant milestone – Auckland’s City Rail Link (CRL) has formally accepted ownership of its big Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) after extensive factory tests in China.
“The successful factory assessment tests and the handover of the TBM to the Link Alliance is a very clear and strong indication that the CRL project can meet critical milestones in a Covid-19 world,” says Dr Sean Sweeney, Chief Executive of City Rail Link Ltd.
The tests were conducted on the fully constructed TBM by the German manufacturer, Herrenknecht, at its factory at Guangzhou in southern China.
“The TBM successfully underwent more than 500 tests to make sure everything works as it should. There is now great excitement that we are ready for the next step – to bring the TBM to Auckland,” says Francois Dudouit, Project Director for CRL’s Link Alliance.
Rigorous checks tested the TBM’s three big jobs underground: excavating the tunnels, transporting tonnes of excavated spoil to the surface, and installing the thousands of concrete panels that will line the tunnels.
A few facts about it from CRL.
- The TBM has a cutting head has a diameter of 7.15m, about half the size of the TBM used at Waterview. But at the CRL one is longer at 130m compared to about 97m for Waterview. This one weighs about 910 tonnes. Interestingly the Waterview TBM was made in the same factory
- It costs about $13.5 million
- It will arrive in October and start tunnelling from Mt Eden in April 2021.
- It will take about nine months to build each of the two 1.6km tunnels, moving at a maximum of about 32 metres per day.
- After the first tunnel it will be dismantled and returned to Mt Eden to do the second tunnel – which is expected to start in March 2022.
- Up to 1,500 tonnes of spoil will be excavated each day which they say will go to disused quarries.
Leaking like a sieve
A report into how information about light rail leaked from Waka Kotahi NZTA last year couldn’t find the source but found the agency leaks like a sieve.
There is a sieve-like culture at the NZ Transport Agency, says the head of an inquiry, which has failed to identify the leaker of light rail documents.
Investigating lawyer Mike Heron said in his 28-page report that “it was expressed to me many times, and often with regret, that NZTA has a culture of leaking information”.
Despite this confidence in each other, interviewees thought the agency was leaky and “generally put this down to a cultural dynamic whereby highly skilled and passionate people would, on occasion, take it upon themselves to disclose sensitive information in circumstances where they considered that NZTA was not performing adequately or serving the public interest appropriately”.
The board and management could address this by ensuring people could express their views and be heard, Heron said.
From what I’ve seen over the years there seems to be a few cultural issues at play when it comes to information.
- In my opinion there’s a lot of stuff that goes on inside the agency that should see the light of day more than it does. There seems to be a culture of releasing as little as possible unless the agency absolutely has too with it often only getting to the public following an Official Information Act Request – this isn’t unique to the NZTA though. It would be good, at the very least, if they proactively published all reports and memos at the same time as any public announcements – even if some parts of those were redacted.
- When leaking that does occur, it often seems to be more about furthering personal ambitions, preferences and projects. For example, over the last few years there has seemed to be a significant amount leaking, or at least just guidance, towards journalists and some politicians in a bid to put pressure on the government to return the agencies focus towards funding some of the large motorway projects.
The light rail leak is a bit different to above and does seem to have been about highlighting the poor outcomes that were being pushed by the NZ Superfund and their Canadian partners.
The opportunity cost of Park & Ride
A good tweet from Matt Prasad highlighted the opportunity cost of Park & Ride.
The cost of FREE parking. Glen Innes Station
Orange = 200m2 single level shops circa 75K per annum lease
Purple = 1500m2 assume same as orange potentially 500K per annum lease potential pic.twitter.com/aVDfoOPeJ5
— Matt Prasad (@matty_prasad) August 14, 2020
A good question. From